Gregory Odom, Jr. (right) earned a start on the Mackenzie Tour (GCAA photo)
No segment of competitive amateur golf was more affected by Covid-19 than collegiate golf. So when classes, golf tournament schedules -- and the season-ending NCAA championships -- were canceled in the Spring of 2020, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) made contingency plans to keep things going.
By August of 2020, a "tour" of events for collegiate golfers was launched by GCAA to give everyone a chance to stay sharp. Playing as individuals, male and female golfers enjoyed venues like Pinehurst (NC), Reflection Bay (NV), and Talking Stick, in Arizona. Dozens of events later, a season-ending championship was held at Oak Hills CC in San Antonio, with two local club members taking the top-2 spots.
Nationally-ranked Mid-Am golfer Colby Harwell (a quarterfinalist in the 2021 U.S. Mid-Am) posted 8-under to run away with the 54-hole event by six shots over fellow Oak Hills member Andres Acevedo.
Gregory Odom Jr., a senior at Howard University, was the real story of the tournament. He fired a final round 69 to take third place in the championship, earning an exemption into the 2022 Ontario Open, a Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event.
Odom Jr. started the week shooting a 3-over 74 and finishing Monday tied for 13th. He bounced back on Tuesday, tying the low round of the day at 1-under 71, going 3-under on the last five holes. Heading into Wednesday's final round, Odom Jr. was four shots behind Blake Brothers in the "exemption race" and not sure he was in position to earn the Tour start.
"Starting the day, I knew I was kind of out of it, really, since the leader was really low. But I just stuck with it today and just tried to grind it out.” Odom Jr. told the GCAA media team after his round."
On the front nine, Odom Jr. birdied the first hole but bogeyed the seventh and ninth to make the turn at 1-over. But Brothers bogeyed holes 2, 5 and 7, yielding two shots to Odom Jr. After an additional bogey by Brothers on hole 11, Odom Jr. entered the par-4 14th hole only one shot down. He drained an 8-foot birdie putt while Brothers failed to get up and down for par on 14.
With four holes left, Odom Jr. now had the lead for the Mackenzie Tour exemption.
He made his second-straight birdie at the 15th hole and scrambled for par on 16 to remain at 1-over par. Much like the second round, Odom Jr. was finishing strong. He sealed his victory with a 10-foot birdie putt on 17, followed by a par on No. 18.
As the low amateur from the GCAA Summer Series, Odom Jr. will be provided with an exemption into the 2022 PGA Mackenzie Tour Ontario Open at Woodington Lake Golf Club.
The Golf Coaches Association of America contributed to this story
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ABOUT THE GCAA Summer Series - Championship
Invitation only event for players participating in the
series of GCAA Summer
Series events. Players will be invited based on
performance in the individual
series events and the overall series rankings. Top
three finishers from each
individual event will earn an automatic entry into the
Eligibility: Tournaments are open to college age
men’s golfers or individuals who were on a team
Format: Events will be 54 holes held over three days.
Tournaments will have either a single or double tee
start format. Tournaments will be recognized by
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